March 4, 2008

Looking at 3 years from now

Hello everyone. Yesterday, the Twins played two games. The "B game" was against the Red Sox in the last game against the defending World Champions (at least for a little over a week). The two teams tied, meaning the Red Sox won the series 2-1-1.

The "A game" was against the Reds and the Twins made a late-surge to send the game into extra innings and the team eventually won on a 2-run home run by Chris Basak. Randy Ruiz sent the game into extra's with his own 2-run home run in the bottom of the ninth. Joe Mauer stayed hot this spring with another 1-3 outing where he drove in his first RBI of the spring. Carlos Gomez and Alexi Casilla were menaces on the base paths stealing 3 bases, 2 for Casilla, one for Gomez. Both also drove in a run as well. Casilla and Brendan Harris helped the team turn 4 double plays on the afternoon.

The team will play the Tampa Bay Rays this afternoon at noon and will face the Yankees tomorrow afternoon at 12:15. The game will be aired on ESPN, so make sure to watch it. According to Kelsie Smith, Mauer, Delmon Young and Justin Morneau will be held out of the game against the Rays, which makes one only assume that they'll play against the Yankees. Gomez may also get the game against the Rays off, after starting two consecutive games, which may make him a probable against the Yankees. Either way, it's going to be a lot of fun to get to watch Twins baseball again, regardless of who is playing.

Now onto my thoughts. I read an article on Carlos Gomez the other night and he was talking about leading off and whatnot, and he had this to say:
"In two, three more years, I won't hit leadoff. I have to use my speed now. When I get older, I want to hit third."
Obviously, I think it's everyone's dreams to hit in the third spot of the lineup, especially one as (potentially) good as the Twins. But it got me thinking of some of the players who may be viewed upon as a lead-off batter at that time. Ben Revere should be about ready in three years, especially if he doesn't hit a snag in his development in any of his stops in the minors. Joe Benson has a lot of upside, but he still needs to prove that he's not just all hype and needs to produce this season to lay some of his critics to rest. However, Benson (like Gomez) has potential to have a "big bat" that could allow the team to bat him second, third or anywhere else in the order. Denard Span and Jason Pridie are both possibilities, I suppose, but many expect Gomez to have center field locked in by then, and Delmon Young and Michael Cuddyer both expect to be around at that time as well, and both will be older than many of the other younger candidates.

My guess, is that Ben Revere will be competing for a spot in the outfield at that time and could push for the lead-off spot.

I can realistically see a lineup as follows:

1) Ben Revere - CF
2) Carlos Gomez - RF
3) Joe Mauer - C
4) Delmon Young - LF
5) Justin Morneau - 1B
6) Michael Cuddyer - DH
7) Deibinson Romero - 3B
8) Trevor Plouffe - 2B
9) Alexi Casilla - SS

Now, I don't expect Gomez ever beating out Young for the right to bat third, even in three years. However, I can see Mauer finally developing more power to make him a more desirable #3 hitter than he is right now. If that happens, I could honestly see Gomez hitting second, in front of Mauer and hopefully his Carl Crawford comparisons will be accomplished, which would make him a very desirable #2 hitter infront of Mauer. Imagine a 9-1-2 with Casilla, Revere and Gomez on the basepaths. They all have potential to steal 40+ bases per season, however I may be putting too much stock into Revere considering he only has 191 at bats through 50 games in the Twins system, all with the GCL Twins in the rookie league. However, many predict Revere to have a very good career, and I'm one of those who believe he will as well. I don't know how the Twins would be able to justify having Trevor Plouffe play shortstop over Casilla. All indications are that Casilla has better defense, and his speed/range is not even a comparison. I see Trevor Plouffe at second base. DJ Romero is a fast-rising prosect through the Twins system who many believe is on the "fast-track" to the major leagues. He has a potential big league bat, which could make him a solid addition to the middle-of-the-lineup.

Wilson Ramos is another guy who could compete for a spot on the roster, however having him in the lineup would likely mean moving Joe Mauer, and I'm not going to get into that discussion right now. It's too early for me to predict Mauer's future behind the plate. However, if he is forced to move (injury reasons or because of Ramos or another prospect), third base, first base, left field, and DH are all possibilities. I guess I'm just not that high on Ramos just yet, however he definitely is one of the guys I'm most excited to see how he does this season.

As for the rotation, there should definitely be many options available, as the Twins pitching in the farm system is full of guys very capable of someday starting in the majors. I personally see the rotation like this:

1) Francisco Liriano
2) Deolis Guerra
3) Kevin Slowey
4) Tyler Robertson
5) Kevin Mulvey

I think Liriano will re-gain his 2006 form eventually, however I'm not sure he will this season. But by 2011, he should. Guerra is another very high-potential pitcher who would be 22-years-old in 2011, but will likely already have a solid amount of starts under his belt before 2011. Mulvey is potential #3 starter, with Robertson & Slowey potentially having front-of-the-line stuff. They could have many challengers with Jay Rainville, Jeff Manship, Anthony Swarzak, Oswaldo Sosa, Alex Burnett, Michael McCardell, and David Bromberg to name a few. And don't forget guys like Boof Bonser and Scott Baker who both aren't eligible for Free Agency until 2013 and guys like Philip Humber, Nick Blackburn, Brian Duensing, and Glen Perkins who are all fighting for spots in the rotation right now.

Lets just say, the Twins have PLENTY of options for the rotation for both now, and in the near future.

How does your 2011 lineup/rotation compare to mine?